Tuesday, February 27Hampton Roads Weekly

Classroom of the Future

Classroom of the Future is here at ECPI University

ECPI Introduces Most Advanced Virtual Reality Teaching Tools Available

The future is now! Most certainly, it’s an old cliché, but it takes on fresh meaning when viewed through the eyes of students at ECPI University. Always seeking to embrace the latest in teaching technology, ECPI is once again proving that it’s a leader in higher education.

Earlier this year, ECPI University began phasing in new technologies which are part of its initiative, Classroom of the Future. Within its Colleges of Nursing and Health Science, it introduced the Anatomage Table, the world’s first virtual dissection table, the most technologically advanced 3D anatomy visualization systems for anatomy and physiology education.

The Anatomage Table is the only fully-segmented real human 3D anatomy system. Students can visualize anatomy precisely as they would on an actual cadaver. Individual structures are reconstructed in accurate 3D, resulting in an unprecedented level of real, accurate anatomy, and presented as a fully-interactive, life-sized touch screen experience. The Table allows for exploration and learning of human anatomy beyond what any cadaver could offer. According to the developer, they collected thousands of real human cases and digitized them in the highest possible resolution and spent many years painstakingly separating individual structure from each slice.

While a number of medical schools are now using this technology, ECPI University is among the few undergraduate institutions that have done so. “We asked ourselves, how we can best prepare our nursing and health science students for their careers?” says ECPI University Director of Educational Technology and Innovation Dr. Erica Jones-Foster. “Our response was to ‘flip’ the traditional curriculum to incorporate a more engaging and interactive student experience. Students don’t want to confine themselves solely to textbooks and hours of lectures. Through the Anatomage Table, most of the information students read in a textbook is now available to them in engaging and enriching format. The technologies we incorporated allow students to perform virtual dissections on real cadavers, diagnose pathologies, observe CT/MRI scans, analyze case studies and perform self-assessments. Students are learning and retaining more information than previously achieved.”

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Students are engaged and eager to learn. Instructors do not solely rely on textbooks and PowerPoints to instruct their students. They are more hands-on and able to simulate ‘real-world’ procedures that they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to accomplish. In fact, many student choose to stay after class so they can ask questions and dive further into the technologies. We have turned courses that ordinarily consist of hours of lectures into more interactive and engaging environments.”

At the Colleges of Technology, Business, and Criminal Justice, ECPI University is preparing to roll out Virtual and Augmented Reality programs developed by ECPI’s own faculty members, specifically aligned to our Curriculum. “The Classroom of the Future immerses students in an environment which enables them to learn in a way they are comfortable,” says ECPI University Dean of Academic Technology Gerry White. “These technologies provide experiences for a variety of learning styles. Cyber students can walk through experiences as if they were really inside a data farm trouble-shooting issues. Humanities students can experience art and technologies that are on the other side of the world. Mobile devices also play a crucial role in our modern students’ lives. These are the windows through which they interact with their world, the places they have fun. This is an excellent way to foster learning and we have found it to be very successful in multiple areas of our students’ educational experience. We are preparing them for the future by immersing them within it.”

“Whether it’s virtual reality or the gamification of content, we are looking to provide an educational experience in a familiar and comfortable environment for our students. The Classroom of the Future is here to stay.”

By David Bandt